Turmeric and Curcumin – What’s the difference?

Author: Corinne Bett   Date Posted:11 January 2016 

Turmeric and Curcumin. Both are difficult words to pronounce at the best of times! And both can provide an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect in the body, which can help relieve pain associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis.

But what is the difference between Turmeric and Curcumin? We get asked this question a lot at Australian NaturalCare, so we decided to put together this handy guide together for you to give you the facts you need to know about these two hard-to-pronounce-yet-super-duper-anti-inflammatory compounds. Enjoy!

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is the yellow spice used in Indian cooking, and has been used as a traditional medicine throughout India and China for centuries. It is known to have an anti-inflammatory action in the body, as well as a tonifying effect on the liver and digestive system. So what is it that gives Turmeric its therapeutic effects?

Ah, well that is the active plant chemicals, called the Curcuminoids. And guess which is the most active of Turmeric’s plant chemicals…you guessed it, it’s Curcumin!

Curcumin is stronger than Turmeric?

Yep, sure is! Curcumin is the strongest active plant chemical in Turmeric, which is thought to exert the anti-inflammatory effects of Turmeric. Curcumin is best absorbed and bioavailable in the body with a source of fat, or phospholipid. Even in traditional Indian cooking, the famous turmeric that colours and flavours its curries is most often cooked with ghee, or a source of fat, to aid absorption of the turmeric in the body.

Without the phospholipid complex to increase the bioavailability of Curcumin, you would need to consume large amounts of Curcumin to get the same effect of just one Curcumin tablet, bound in a phospholipid complex. That’s why our Curcumin, bound in the Meriva phospholipid complex, can be absorbed up to 29 times more effectively, and twice as fast compared to a standard curcumin product.

How do they compare?  

One tablet of Curcumin Anti-inflammatory Pain Reliever = 18 teaspoons of Turmeric powder (approximately).

And the therapeutic dose of our Australian NaturalCare Curcumin Anti-inflammatory Pain Reliever is 2 tablets per day. That’s a whopping 36 teaspoons of Turmeric or a heck of a lot of curry to fit into one day, to get the same amount of Curcumin, eep!

Although we are big advocates of using food as medicine, if you are wanting the strong, anti-inflammatory effect from your Curcumin and Turmeric and don’t believe you are consuming enough, then maybe it’s best to top up your intake and take it in tablet form.

How does Curcumin work?

  1. Curcumin has the ability to act on multiple inflammatory mechanisms to reduce inflammation, rather than just targeting one. This means it has a potent effect on swelling and pain associated with inflammation.
  2. Curcumin is also a potent antioxidant, so it is thought that alongside its anti-inflammatory effects, both mechanisms may increase mobility and reduce pain for those with osteoarthritis.
  3. In Clinical trials, patients with osteoarthritis who took the special Meriva Curcumin in Curcumin Anti-Inflammatory Pain Reliever could walk over twice as far on a treadmill test as those who did not.  Patients from these trials also reported that it was significantly easier to go about their daily lives compared to those who were treated with standard treatment.       

How can Curcumin help me?

  •     Improve mobility in those suffering with osteoarthritis
  •     Decrease pain, swelling and inflammation in osteoarthritis
  •     Help reduce the impact of osteoarthritis on social and leisure  activities
  •     Help maintain healthy digestive function
  •     Help support liver health
  •     Help support cardiovascular health

How is Curcumin best taken?

Curcumin is best taken 1 tablet, twice daily to extend its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effect in the body. Note - Curcumin may interact with some medications, so please check with your doctor before trying out this super spice! 

Written by Corinne Bett

Corinne spent her childhood helping her mother and grandfather in the garden grow various herbs and vegetables. This sparked a great interest in herbal medicine and nutrition in later life, and a passion for a wholefood diet. As a Naturopath today, she likes to empower others to utilise food as medicine, and live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In her spare time she like to spend time in nature bushwalking and swimming, adventuring in far and exotic places, and dreaming about what kind of dog she might like to have one day.